Sunday, March 29, 2015

Trying to get a grib on Irish Rugby

Understanding Irish Rugby

            The sport of Rugby is staring to take off these last 10 years. Attendance and media coverage is starting paying attention to the sport I have been following and trying to understand the League of Ireland but now find Rugby so fascinating. Ireland has a national team that encompasses all of Ireland. This is different from the national soccer teams that bring about so much national pride to both the Republic and the North. There are 3 big tournaments now. The Rugby Championship(New Zealand (1), South Africa (2), Australia(6) and now 2012 Argentina (8)), The 6 Nations Cup (Ireland-3, England-4, Wales-5, France-7, Scotland-10, and now Italy (2000)) and the Pacific Nations Cup. The Pacific Nations Cup is a Tier 2 level consisting of Samoa (8), Japan (11), Fiji (12), Tonga (13), USA (16) and Canada (17).

World Cup
When ranking teams we always look at World Cup Rugby Championships to see just how good you are. 6 of the 7 World Cup Titles have been won by teams that play in the Rugby Championship. The winners were Australia (2), New Zealand (2), South Africa (2), and England (1).   New Zealand has been a cut above the rest of the World for some time however the playing field has become so much more even now. The European teams have made great strides to catch these top national teams. The next Rugby World Cup is this September 18th-31 in Merry Olde England. These 6 nations will surely Challenge the perennial powers for the World Cup in September. This takes me to look at teams and the leagues that make up the 6 Nations Cup.
World Rugby Rankings
Top 25 Rankings as 23 March 2015[1]
1Steady New Zealand93.70
2Steady South Africa88.23
3Steady Ireland85.76
4Steady England85.40
5Steady Wales84.07
6Steady Australia82.95
7Steady France79.74
8Steady Argentina78.23
9Steady Samoa75.39
10Steady Scotland74.79
11Steady Japan74.70
12Steady Fiji74.57
13Steady Tonga74.12
14Increase1 Georgia72.16
15Decrease1 Italy71.85
16Steady United States67.61
17Increase1 Canada66.83
18Decrease1 Romania66.23
19Steady Russia64.65
20Steady Uruguay63.58

Six Nations Cup- International Games
This started at the Home nations Cup, then 5 Nations Cup and when it expanded to Italy it became the 6 Nations Cup. The Irish national Rugby team plays every year in the 6 Nations Cup. The 6 nations Cup is one of the 2 (Tier 1) Big Rugby Championships outside of the Rugby World Cup. These nations of Ireland, England, Wales, France, Scotland and Italy are Ranked 3rd, 4th, 5th ,7th, 10th and 15th  respectively.  France has the most Championships with 5, followed closely by England and Wales each with 4, Ireland just won their 3rd. Scotland and Italy are still looking for their first Championship. I have to say more interesting now that Ireland can play with the big nations and go toe to toe with them. Rugby has given Ireland the pride, to be recognized by the World as a top class team in Rugby.

Heineken Cup- Club competition
 European Rugby Championship Cup use .   to be called the The Heineken Cup. The latest installment had 20 teams. England and France were granted 6 clubs to participate since they had much better clubs.  Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales: 7 teams, based on performance in the Pro12. The last spot will have a playoff of clubs from all European nations.
Clubs from France had the most Titles with 7 ( and an astonishing 10 runner ups French teams, England has 6 Championships with 5 runner ups, Ireland has 6 Championships also with 3 runner ups. Wales and Italy have not reached the Final game yet but have made strides. 

France’s Top 14 League
            France has a top League called Top 14 consisting of 14 teams from France.  Stade Toulousain has the most Championships with 19. Top 14 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. France has promotion and regulation to a 16 team lower division. France has more club teams than any other European nation. France has a deepest European League. France has also been very competitive against the top World Cup of Rugby teams. France was runner-up 3 times.English PremiershipRugby

English Premier Rugby 12 teams
 Premier Rugby  England has a Rugby league called the English Premiership (Aviva Premiership Rugby) Rugby League. The English league consist of 12 teams most notably the Leicester Tigers with 10 Championships, Bath with 6 Championships and Wasps with 6 Championships. The English national team draws players from this very competitive league. England has a robust league with promotion/regulation to a 12 team lower division. 
Guinness Pro 12 League  (12 teams from Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Italy)
This takes me to Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Italy. These 4 nations do not have enough teams to create their own league so they started an international league of 12 teams. The league is called Guinness Pro12 League sponsored by Guinness this year. These teams consist 4 teams from Ireland, 4 from Wales, 2 from Scotland and 2 from Italy.  Ireland has the most championships with 8, Wales with 5, Scotland 0 and Italy 0. Leister (Dublin) has established themselves as the top team in this league. They won the last 2 Championships and were runner-up the 3 previous years. Leister (Dublin) also has the highest attended games for the last 9 years. This game is usually against their Irish rival Munster (Cork-Limerick).           
The biggest rivalry is between the 2 Irish Provinces: Leinster vs Munster. Leinster (Dublin) plays every league game at the very nice RDS Stadium except when they play Munster. Leinster host Munster at Aviva Stadium and usually have a sellout with 51,000. Munster plays in the small Musgrave stadium (Cork) except when they play Leinster (Dublin). This game is played in the beautiful Thomond Park which is usually a sellout of 26,000.                                                                                         Attendance for the entire league has increased from 3,802 average in the 2003-2004 season to 8,205 average last year 2013-14. So over the last 10 years attendance has more than doubled. It is a good sign that the league is expanding when Italy joined and added 2 more teams in the 2010-11 season.  
So as you can see Leinster(Dublin) has the biggest fans base by far. The rivalry between Leinster (Dublin) and Munster (Cork-Limerick) is what will drive this league. There seems to be enough interest in Dublin to field a second club....but I am getting ahead of myself. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Ranking the League of Ireland Stadiums

Ranking the League of Ireland Stadiums
Ranking the League of Ireland Stadiums
Avg fans 2014
Turners Cross
Cork City
Tallaght Stadium
Shamrock Rovers

The Showgrounds
Sligo Rovers

Deacy Park
Galway United

Richmond Park
St. Patrick’s Ath.

Derry City

Dalymount Park
Bohemians FC

City Calling Stadium
Longford Town
Carlisle Grounds
Bray Wanders

Oriel Park

United Park
Drogheda United

Market's FieldLimerick FC

1.      Turners Cross in Cork redeveloped their stadium in 2009. The Cross seats 7,365 and is the only stadium that has covering for all the seats (the other being Aviva Stadium). Cork City F.C. led the league in attendance before Tallaght was built. Cork also had the highest attendance last year with 3,777.  This view is from the newest St. Ann's End. This end seats 1,600, The main stand to the right is the Donie Forte Stand which seats 1,900 and is the biggest section. Directly across from the Main stand is the Derryane stand (1,185) where supporters gather. The other end zone which is straight across from this picture is the Curragh Road Stand (1,500). The record attendance was in 1991 with 12000. 

2.      Tallaght Stadium was built and owned by the South Dublin County Council.  The Shamrock Rovers are their main tenant. Tallaght is the newest LOI stadium for soccer. Shamrock Rovers have had the best attendance in the league since Tallaght Stadium opened in 2009, until last year. The Stadium is new, clean and has room for expansion.Each stand has capacity for 3,000 spectators and runs the length of the pitch. They have lighting for night games and meets all EUFA requirements. Once they close in the end zones with stands, this will make for a great cozy feeling. There is room on the land for expansion near the stadium and room for stadium expansion itself. 

3.      Sligo Rovers F.C. play in the very comfy stadium called the Showgrounds. The main stand is where this pic was taken from. It holds 1,853. The  recent development of the Showgrounds was the new Volkswagon Bank End stand with 1,300 seats, pictures to the left. This replaces the former railway End terrace. The cost was 200,000 Euro’s and this increases total seating to 4,000. The opposite stand is the Jinks Av Stand with a capacity of 847. The other end of the stadium behind the net does not have any stands. This stadium has been built one stand at a time, as the need arose. Sligo is a very well run club and attendance shows.

4.      Deacy Park is the home field of Galway United. Galway United have a really nice stadium set up that has stands on 3 sides. The far end has a 10 to 12 foot cinder block wall where fans stand in front of to watch game.  The new largest stand was built in 2007 with 1,500 seats.  The opposite side is the older stands that fortunately run the length of the pitch. The other end zone has a few row of seats. Deacy Park also has one of the best pitches the players like to play on. It is always well groomed and it is hard to find a better pitch.

5.      Richmond Park is the home field for St. Patrick’s Athletic Club located in Inchicore, Ireland. There are 2 good stands, The main stand that holds 1,800 fans. The hard core fans have traditionally meandered in the opposite end under the Shed. However many of these vocal fans have moved to the newer stand at the far end of this picture. This new end stand seats 1,000 and is known as the West or New stand. Unfortunately it is uncovered. The opposite side does not have seating sort to speak but could have standing room if the need arose. The opposite side of the main stand has standing room but this seems to work for the Saints fr big games capacity can increase.
6. Brandywell Stadium is located in the north and has an old dog track around the field. The stadium looks pretty cool with the curve of the stadium but fans want to be closer to the pitch. Derry City has received funding to redevelop the stadium but  there are always problems in Ireland when it come to building.

7. Dalymount Park built in 1901 has been redeveloped the ground to some extent. In 1999 the old main stand was replaced by a modern structure with 2,742 seats, known as the "Jodi Stand". This was at a cost of £1.1 million.  Half of the terrace on the opposite side was knocked down, the remainder had seats installed on the terracing (pictured on your right)is closed due to health and safety concerns. This is a big eye sore for Bohemians, The League of Ireland and the fans. The old "Shed End", now called "The Des Kelly Carpets Stand" has similarly had seats added and now has a capacity of 1,485. The terrace behind the opposite goal (or "Tramway End") has been sold and is therefore closed. The modern capacity of Dalymount that is in use is 3,193. There is no designated stand for away fans with traveling support accommodated in different stands depending on the numbers expected. 

8. Calling City Stadium is the home to newly promoted Longford Town. This stadium is similar to Oriel Park, in the fact that it has one main stand and an enclosed field surrounded by a very small seating section. has an odd looking shape. It has one big stand, but it has seating around the entire field. I do not know how comfortable these seating are.

9 Carlile Grounds is the field for Bray Wanders. It has a long stand that has a roof over it. one the left side. There is a newer stand on the opposite side with no roof.

10 Oriel Park is the home to Dundalk, the reigning Champions of the League of Ireland. Oriel Park  has one big stand and is surrounded by stands on each side. The stadium this resembles Longford Town's  Calling City Stadium.
Aerial Park 

11 United Park  home to Drogheda United seems to have a patch work of stands and building that surround the field.Below is the main stand. IT is covered.
  .below is the opposite side of United park..there seems to be a missing section in the best part of the field. This club need a new stand however attendance doesn't dictate the need. 

12. Markets Field will soon be the home of Limerick FC. This spiritual home need a lot of work. The pitch looks great however there is only one stand. This could have a similar set up as Longford Town and Dundalk's stadium. Markets field still does not have the surround seating that makes for a better atmospheres.  This stadium just needs seating and get by safety issues and Limerick will be in business.